Tamil Nadu basketball teams hope to impress at home

Chennai:

The Tamil Nadu men’s team will be keen to end a four-year drought at the 71st Senior National Basketball Championship, which is due to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here from April 3-10.

Tamil Nadu last won the title under then Serbian head coach Milan Opacic in 2018 when the state previously hosted the annual tournament. The Tamil Nadu team, which has CV Sunny as head coach and H Muin Bek as captain, was pitted against Uttarakhand, Delhi and Mizoram in Group C for the first round.

“We are not under pressure [because of the fact that we are playing at home]. We will look at it as just one more domestic tournament,” India international Muin Bek said while speaking to the media at a city hotel on Saturday.

“I expect every game to be tough, so we’ll take it game by game. [Irrespective of the strength of the opponent], we will respect each team. But we will be looking to win our group matches by a good margin as the results carry over into the next round. If we do that, we can have an advantage in knockouts,” added Muin Bek.

For his part, former Indian player Sunny said: “We have a good mix of youth and experience. The boys are ready to take their game to the next level. A total of 16 teams will take part in the men’s event, with each group comprising four teams in the first round.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu women’s team, who finished second in 2019 (January), are also hoping to impress at home. Led by A Ashmitha, Tamil Nadu were placed with Railways, Delhi and Maharashtra in Group A for the first round. Former Tamil Nadu men’s team player R Delhi Raj is the head coach of the women’s team.

“We have been training for months. We are motivated to give the best of ourselves. Winning or losing a game is secondary,” Ashmitha told reporters.

The women’s draw includes 15 teams divided into four groups (4 teams in 3 groups and 3 teams in 1 group). The national championship, the last edition of which took place in Ludhiana (Punjab) in 2019 (December), is back after a two-year break.